Big Muddy Golf, Gambling, Blockheads

Topeka Capital-Journal
March 22, 1993

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The problem with traveling is that there are too many tourists in the places tourists like to go. This city, for example, is a popular tourist spot, but it should not be confused with New Orleans, which is a tourist trap.

New Orleans relies on gluttony, a capital sin of which we are all guilty to some degree. Natchez, on the other hand, is a long-running contest over which will last the longest – the antebellum homes that abound here, or the hordes of old folks who flock in here to see them.

The homes always win. In fact, most of them look better today than when they were built, and they all have weathered far better than the visitors.

So, you may ask, what is an old weather-beaten Okie, who wouldn’t know an antebellum home from a new Holiday Inn, doing in Natchez? Simple. I am playing daddy to two heartless offspring who sometimes seem to think I’m Daddy Warbucks. Continue reading

Lessons in Family and Basketball

Topeka Capital-Journal
March 17, 1993

For weeks, our two sons, Steve in Maryland and Kurt in California, have taken turns calling me to make sure I know the game plan. I have it down pat. I am to pick them up at the New Orleans airport today. It is Saint Patrick’s Day, but that has no bearing, since the Snider family is about as Irish as Paddy’s bratwurst.

It was decided weeks ago it was time for another reunion, and the two of them, without consulting me, chose New Orleans as the meeting place. They explained it was “convenient” for all three of us.

That’s easy for them to say. They fly a few hours nonstop to get there and back, while I drive a few days to get there and back. That’s their idea of a square deal, and it gets even worse. In the four days we’ll be together, I will provide the transportation and who knows what else.

The plan calls for us to explore New Orleans, visit Natchez, Miss., the Civil War battlefield at Vicksburg, play a little golf along the way, and seek out food and spirits sufficient to maintain our stamina and morale. My stomach churns at the thought. Continue reading

Never Lost on Midwestern Memory Lane

Topeka Capital-Journal
Nov. 26, 2000

On the weekend before Thanksgiving our son, Steve, who lives in Maryland, with his son, Jake, 11, were here, and Steve insisted we visit the birthplaces of my parents. Being the kind of father I am, I agreed, but the problem was that my dad was born in Miltonvale and my mom and Howe, Neb., and Steve wanted to hit both in one day.

We headed toward Miltonvale and I compounded the problem by stopping in Manhattan to show them the K-State stadium and the new Colbert Hills Golf Course. Then, I figured that since we were so close, we should stop in Wakefield to say hello to former Gov. Bill Avery.

That was fine, except that as we started to turn off US-77 Highway on K-82 we learned it was closed, and we’d have to detour around the bottom end of Milford Lake and approach Wakefield from the south.

Everything seemed to be working, but we ran out of highway signs and were forced to make the reluctant decision that we were lost. Thus began a day of learning anew of the hospitality and innate goodness of rural Kansans. Continue reading

Family Money: Carving the Oklahoma Pie

Topeka Capital-Journal
April 28, 1997

You’ve heard this before: put some relatives and family members around a table, and in the center put some money or valuables to be divided among them, and you’ll see some greed, resentment and even some skullduggery. I am speaking as a victim when I say I’ve been there.

I was done in by my own blood brother, who lives in Dallas. Like most highbinders, he says now it was all a mistake, and he even places the blame on an Oklahoma lawyer, one of the worst kind, who is now deceased, making him one of the best kind.

I’d like to believe him, but his mistake – if you want to call it that – was so enormous, and the stakes were so high, that it is difficult for me to do. I’ll tell you the sordid story, and you be the judge.

As you read this, consider the possibility of a conspiracy among all the relatives involved in this, and try to think of a reliable lawyer who might represent me. I realize “reliable lawyer” is oxymoronic, and I may have to settle for considerably less. Continue reading